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The Abuja Airport and Its Scheduled Closure

Proshare

Monday, January 09, 2017/ 4:43 PM /FDC

Q: The Abuja airport is scheduled for closure in March. I do a lot of business with the Federal government of Nigeria and I understand I have to fly to Kaduna. Some international airlines have advised that they are closing all Abuja routes as a result. What is your view on this and how should I handle this situation?

A: Abuja airport attracts about 25-30% of international traffic with about 8 airlines ranging from the 3 world airline alliances. The closure of the Abuja airport will have a catastrophic effect on the economy, as the airport is hub for government business. In Q3’16, the government contributed about N680 million to GDP.

The federal government is extremely important and all the headquarters including the Central Bank, NNPC, and SEC are all in Abuja. Therefore, Abuja is a stop that has to be made if business is to be done in Nigeria. The closure will therefore be very disruptive to many businesses and government activity.

The closure of the airport is to allow for the reconstruction of the runway however; a less disruptive decision could have been to build a second runway, as seen in the Lagos airport, before closing the damaged runway.

During the period of the proposed closure, passengers will be diverted to the Kaduna airport and transported 210km from Kaduna to Abuja. Abuja airport currently operates 45 international flights per week and a total of 270 flights in six weeks.

Kaduna airport, primarily used for domestic flights, currently operates only 12 domestic flights compared to 812 from Abuja airport.

Kaduna airport is expected to handle the traffic despite the fact that the airport does not have the full capacity including the facility and personnel to take on the new traffic load. International airlines, Lufthansa, KLM, British airways, have expressed reservations about flying to Kaduna due to security reasons.

Kaduna poses risks of kidnapping, boko haram, armed robbery and major road accidents. As a result, it is best to avoid travelling to Abuja during this period given the risks involved.

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